City Government

City Council Members Respond to our GoG Road Closure Blog

Last week, we posted a blog about local anti-automobile activists seeking to close Garden of the Gods roads to automobile use. See that blog here. Many readers contacted us this week to complain that their emails to City Council members were bouncing back, and that they weren’t able reach several Council members to share their opinions. The City’s IT department responded to us, saying that they were experiencing technical difficulties, but had resolved the issues on Tuesday. They encouraged our readers to email the council members again.

We are seeing hints on social media comments that the Parks Department isn’t in favor of closing the parks to automobiles. If that’s an accurate representation, we are happy to hear this. We suspect that the anti-automobile groups won’t give up, though, and this week we encourage you to continue to contact City Council members, and let them know what you think. Additionally, we believe it’s especially important to contact Mayor John Suthers and let him know that citizens have the right to cruise the roads using cars, bikes, roller skates, or other modes of transportation, through every city park.

Here’s how to contact City Council members and Mayor Suthers. As always, we encourage you to be polite.

Wayne Williams   Wayne.williams@coloradosprings.gov

Tom Strand  Tom.strand@coloradosprings.gov

Bill Murray  Bill.murray@coloradosprings.gov

Andres Pico  Andy.Pico@Coloradosprings.gov

Jill Gaebler Jill.Gaebler@coloradosprings.gov

Yolanda Avila Yolanda.Avila@coloradosprings.gov

Richard Skorman Richard.Skorman@coloradosprings.gov

David Geislinger  David.Geislinger@Coloradosprings.gov

Don Knight  Don.Knight@Coloradosprings.gov

Karen Palus Karen.Palus@coloradosprings.gov

Mayor John Suthers Jsuthers@springsgov.com

On April 18th, the day after the original blog was posted, Councilwoman Jill Gaebler sent an email to Laura with some complaints about our Garden of the Gods blog.

Gaebler questioned the integrity of our blog, and wanted to make sure that our readers knew her proposal to close the roads in Garden of the Gods Park, “would be only occasional, such as a weekend or morning and that it has not once been suggested or proposed that the Garden should close permanently to vehicles, even for the duration of this crisis.”

Laura responded later that same day. Below is the entirety of Laura’s email:

Hi there Jill, and thank you for your note. We do have it accurately reflected in the transcript of your comments at City Council that you suggested the closures on weekends. It is found in the first sentence.

The language that MWTA and Susan Davies use seems to indicate permanent closures, although they don’t use those precise words. We believe strongly that most of the citizens of Colorado Springs don’t wish any park roads to be closed to automobile traffic, whether full time or part time.

All that said, if there is something you would suggest for better clarification, we are happy to do so. We can add an update to the blog with a statement from you, then another social media post that draws the readers’ attention to the update.

We will likely never agree on this topic, and that’s ok. Reasonable people can disagree. But we are always happy to share your words, your way, with our readers.

Let me know what you’d like to do.

Laura

We have not yet heard back on any clarifications from Gaebler, but will happily publish anything she’d like to add to the conversation.

Although Gaebler’s reference in the March 14th City Council meeting was about occasional closures, emails from two local organizations referenced in that same meeting don’t mention occasional closures, and neither does an April 11 Facebook post from Gaebler.

If Councilwoman Gaebler, other members of Colorado Springs City Council, MWTA, TOPS, and other similar organizations are advocating occasional closure as opposed to permanent closure, we would appreciate clarity on that. Most of our supporters still oppose that idea, but we all want to know if they are proposing occasional or permanent closures.

As a reminder, according to the League of American Bicyclists, only .5% of Colorado Springs commuters, commute by bike.

Another reader shared with us an email conversation she had with City Council President Richard Skorman. Mr. Skorman seems to be looking at some sort of compromise. It appears that the only ones who will be compromising are the automobile drivers, though, as they will be locked out of the park during specified hours. See that communication below:

From: Susan

To: Richard.Skorman@coloradosprings.gov

Cc: Andy.Pico@Coloradosprings.gov, Jill.Gaebler@coloradosprings.gov

Date: April 20, 2020 at 10:53 AM

Subject: prohibiting automobiles from Garden of the Gods roads

Dear Councilman Skorman:

As an older citizen of Colorado Springs, I am deeply disturbed that the City Council would consider closing Garden of the Gods (GOG) roads and parking areas.

I do not own a bicycle, so a stroll through the park would become a major hike, if I had to park at Rockledge Ranch or neighboring streets and walk to and from GOG to my car.   How would visitors with children in strollers manage the extra time and effort to travel to and from a remotely parked car?

I have a friend from out of town with ALS, who visited me last year.  We were able to park in the ADA lot and use her folding wheelchair to enjoy the paved paths.  How would those with physical disabilities be accommodated so that they, too, can enjoy the beauty of the park?

If such a change requires park staff and police to manage the remote parking and neighborhood traffic, are there less staff and resources available to make sure that bicyclists, runners, and walkers wear facial covering and practice social distancing?

Please keep GOG roads and parking lots open.

Susan

From: “Skorman, Richard” <Richard.Skorman@coloradosprings.gov>

To: Susan

Date: April 22, 2020 at 10:15 AM

Subject: RE: prohibiting automobiles from Garden of the Gods roads

Hi Susan,

If we do, it might be for a few hours in the early morning, say 7-9, a couple days a week.  Thanks for your comment and hopefully, if we do, it won’t be a major inconvenience for you. Just trying to give others a brief opportunity to enjoy not in their cars.

Best wishes,

Richard

Closure for even a few hours prohibits cars from entering the park. Based on feedback from our readers, they don’t think that’s at all fair.

We encourage you to contact those who plan to make that decision for all Colorado Springs residents. We propose a continuation of the, “share the road” policy, and not having automobiles shut out of public parks at any time.

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